Church leaders in South Korea back anti-discrimination bill but say ‘no’ to same-sex marriage

Catholic Church leaders in South Korea have expressed their opposition to a proposal to legislate same sex-marriage even as they supported an anti-discrimination bill that recognizes the existence of genders other than male and female.

In a statement released this week, the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Korea said the local Church agrees on the proposed law’s primary purpose “to ban any types of discrimination and hope that it can prevent the abuses of human rights.”

The bishops, however, expressed concern over the proposed law’s other provisions, including the recognition of different types of gender aside from male and female.

The church leaders noted that the bill mentions three different types of gender that include a “third gender and sexual identity as a way of people’s perception toward their gender.”

“This cannot be used as grounds to deny that there exist only two genders; male and female,” said the bishops in their statement.

They assured that their position on the issue is based on subjects addressed by Pope Francis in his book “The Joy of Love,” which reaffirmed, among others, “that every person, regardless of sexual orientation, ought to be respected in his or her dignity and treated with consideration, while ‘every sign of unjust discrimination’ is to be carefully avoided, particularly any form of aggression and violence.”

The bishops noted that the bill itself doesn’t mention same-sex marriage. “But there are various movements that deem unions of same-sex people something akin to marriage or God’s view of family. We are against such movements,” read the bishops’ statement.

A mosaic artwork from South Korea featured in the Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth, Israel, depicting Mary and Jesus. (Photo by Ryan Rodrick Beiler/ photo)

“The love between man and woman and the importance of marriage and family form the basis of human dignity in the Constitution. So, love and family should be protected by society and the nation and they should not be ignored under the name of anti-discrimination,” it added.

The bishops also warned against what they described as “reverse discrimination” from the legislation.

“The anti-discrimination law can promote the destruction of human life, artificial conception, selection of life or death based on genetics and the allowance of sexual minorities to adopt children,” they said.

The proposed legislation, which was proposed on June, has polarized religious communities in the country.

The proposed law calls for punitive measures for acts of discrimination based on 26 categories, which include sexual orientation and sexual identity.

Some religious leaders view the bill as a possible protection for the socially vulnerable and shows the Christian values of love and equality. Others, however, look at it as something that is against the teachings of the Church.

Similar anti-discrimination bills have been proposed in the past but failed to pass due to opposition from various faith-based and religious groups.

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